Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
On Monday, March 29 in the Danawell Connector Lounge, Sabrina Merold ‘17 and Jamie Blair, a Grassroots Organizer for Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, held an informational meeting on Planned Parenthood Advocacy. The meeting was for anyone interested in supporting or volunteering for Planned Parenthood. A small gathering of female students discussed academics, the 2016 presidential race, reproductive rights, and advocacy.
In the beginning of the meeting, Blair said she wants the atmosphere to be “an informal space for conversation and questions,” and encouraged participants to share their interest in supporting Planned Parenthood.
Moeko Noda ‘17, an international student from Japan, described the differences in the political climate surrounding abortion in the United States.
“When I came to United States and saw that people do not always think [abortion] is a right and that it is not always accessible, I wanted to do something about the issue.”
Accessibility to women’s health care was a common trend in their conversation. Rinpoche Price-Huish ‘18, who wants a career in women’s health care, said there are “a lot of great moves in research, but we want them to be accessible in the U.S. through advocacy.”
Though Pennsylvanians have coverage for Planned Parenthood services, Merold, a Health Center Advocacy Intern at the Media Planned Parenthood Clinic, noted that many in the South do not. As an intern at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Media, many of the patients she speaks with have to walk through protesters to enter the building. “Everyone should be able to voice their opinions, but there’s a difference between that and being a bully,” she said.
Merold, interested in a career in reproductive law, expressed the importance she sees in the type of support her internship offers. “Advocacy gives people tools to make their voices heard, like many women of color, who cannot receive health care if Planned Parenthood shuts down.”
The topic of who speaks for women’s health continued throughout the meeting.
“If we don’t speak up about it, men will choose to speak about it. I want to be part of the voice that should be heard,” said Anna Weber ‘19.
Blair emphasized the importance of 2016 in women’s health care. “People who care know a certain Republican frontrunner will do little to help them or keep Planned Parenthood around. All Republican candidates said they would defund Planned Parenthood,” she said.
Blair explained to participants how Pennsylvania funding for Planned Parenthood works. The state does not receive any funds outright, but through Medicaid reimbursement. The cost of any services that Planned Parenthood provides are reimbursed to them through Medicaid. Any defunding cuts off that reimbursement.
Pennsylvania has not yet passed its state budget, and Blair added that there have been many attempts to remove the reimbursement.
Merold and Blair also informed participants of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund National Membership Summit, taking place May 12 – 14, in Pittsburgh. The summit brings students from across the nation and, according to Blair, “helps give you the tools to help with whatever issue you see on campus.” For more information on the event, contact Sabrina Merold at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image courtesy of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Pennsylvania.